Micro shelters are ready to open in Tacoma

VIDEO: First look at Tacoma's new micro shelters

Emergency micro-shelters in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood are ready to open, one month after the city announced the emergency housing program. Twenty-two micro-shelters will provide emergency housing to as many as 35 people.

“I think it’s a great idea. They need a place to be and so I hope it works out,” said Danielle Franks, who works nearby.

“Yeah, I think it’s wonderful,” added Kathy Gorans. “There’s so many homeless.”

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The shelters come in response to an explosion of camping in Tacoma's parks and on grass strips running along sidewalks. In November the city banned day camping in tents with closed sides after police and Metro Parks Tacoma complained they were crowding people out and providing cover for illegal activity. The city worked with the Low Income Housing Institute, prepping an empty lot and moving in the ready-made shelters, hoping to give people living on the street an alternative.

“This has been put up in three weeks and you got like, 80, 90 people waiting down the street to get in,” said Eric Davis of the institute. “Unfortunately, there’s not a room for everyone, but it’s a start.”

The site on Martin Luther King Jr. Way opens Dec. 19. Davis said it’s being treated as a pilot program and other micro-shelter sites could follow.